Freeing Emotions and Energy Through Myofascial Release, by certified Rolfer and CORE practitioner Noah Karrasch, is intended for bodyworkers, but I found it to be a terrific resource for bringing awareness to different parts of my own body. Karrasch includes exercises that individuals can do themselves to increase mobility and flexibility, as well as connect with aspects of the self beyond the physical. In his chapter on toes, for example, Karrasch encourages readers to become aware of how they stand and walk to see if they are moving through life with balance and verve. He invites us to see if we are the type to drag our feet, sit back on our heels, or be on our toes.
This kind of awareness really hit home with me over fifteen years ago, in Reiki training. We were instructed to form a circle, and as I got into position to stand shoulder to shoulder with a couple of classmates, I was surprised to feel myself sway forward. I didn’t think it was that dramatic of a movement, but the woman to my right picked up on it immediately. She turned to me and said, “You know, you might want to consider how you’re a pushover in life.” Though blunt, her comment was made in kindness and it really hit home. I was struck by how a total stranger could see the truth of me just by reading my body, and I was further intrigued by the connection she drew between how I stood on my own two feet and how I moved through life. She encouraged me to work on standing my ground and walking, chin-up, with a confident stride.
Similarly, Karrasch is a master at reading bodies and showing the way to alignment and vitality. He promotes a balanced stance (even weight distribution between both feet and along all the different parts of each foot) and a spring in the step (really working the toe and ankle hinges). Here are some tips he gives:
- Look at your footprints (wet feet on dry ground, in sand, etc.). Are they mirror images of each other? Do all ten toes track forward? Is one foot shorter than the other because it arches higher?
- Where do you place your weight? Do you tend to lean back on your heels, on the outside of your feet, on your big toes, etc.? Do you tend to place more weight on one foot? (If you do, he suggests a correlation between the side you physically lean on and the parental figure you emotionally lean on: the maternal on your left, paternal on your right.)
- What happens when you try to redistribute your weight evenly? Does it bring tension to another part of your body? Can you feel your hips shift as your toes move?
- Karrasch points to the Bubbling Spring in Oriental medicine: that spot behind the big toe toward the fleshy center of the foot. Massaging this point by shifting your weight grounds the stomach, liver, and spleen meridians along the front of the body. As you massage the Bubbling Spring, focus on any physical or mental sensations that come up.
How do you stand and move through life? What do you notice as you do these exercises above? Share any questions or observations in the comments below!